Diamond Head Preview
After several less than challenging opponents, we will finally get a glimpse as to how good this team is next week in the Diamond Head Classic. Hopefully, whatever issues kept Bobbitt on the bench last week will be resolved by next Tuesday, but I am not that optimistic that we have seen the last of his attitude problems. The team definitely will need him against decent competition.
Tuesday's games feature Auburn vrs New Mexico and Harvard vrs BYU in the day games, and Oklahoma vrs Washington State and Northern Iowa vrs Hawaii at night. The overwhelming favorite has to be the Sooners, who are ranked number 3 in the nation. In the other bracket, I like the Lobos.
Auburn is 5-2 but is likely to lose to Xavier this weekend. The Tigers have beaten UAB and Coastal Carolina, but have lost to Colorado and Middle Tennessee State. Not exactly a murderer's row. New Mexico, on the other hand, is also 6-2, but has beaten New Mexico State and UH first round opponent, Northern Iowa. Their losses have been to number 11 Purdue and USC.
Harvard, the team I am hosting, has had a tough start. After losing their best player to injury for the year, they are 3-6. One of those losses, however, was to Kansas by only 6. BYU, their opponent, is 8-3 with one more game to play. The Cougars lost to Big West foe Long Beach State and Utah, and have beaten Utah State and a bunch of cupcakes. I will go with my heart and pick Harvard to win that game.
In the nightcap, Oklahoma comes in undefeated. They have beaten Wisconsin and Villanova ( in the Pearl Harbor Classic), and have one more game this Saturday against Creighton. They are a final four team. Their opponent, Washington State, will be playing in the Consolation round for certain. These Cougars are 6-2 with an easy game against Texas State this weekend. They have lost to Gonzaga( not your mother's Gonzaga team), and have no real signature wins so far.
And in the last game of the first round, our beloved Rainbow Warriors ,7-1, with only one near quality win ( Nevada), take on last year's NCAA darling, the panthers of Northern Iowa. The Panthers lost most of their starting five, but are still picked to challenge Wichita State for the Horizon League Championship. Their signature win so far was against the Tarheels. They are 6-3 with a win against another former NCAA darling, George Mason, but they have lost to Colorado State and Richmond, as well as New Mexico. The will likely lose this Saturday to top ten ranked Iowa State. I like Hawaii to win this one. It wont be easy, but UH always plays well in this event. Unfortunately, the prize for winning is a date with the Sooners. But that is for another column.
Tonight on Hoops Talk, 7 pm on ESPN 1420, our guests will be BYU head coach Dave Rose and Carolina head coach Roy Williams. You wont want to miss it.